After the Parkland, Fl., school massacre, what the New York Times calls a “striking number of Democratic candidates” this year believe that many voters have been turned off by the NRA’s hard line, its belligerence and its demands for lock-step loyalty from elected officials.
After the Parkland, Fl. massacre galvanized gun politics in the U.S., a striking number of Democratic candidates in midterm elections, from congressional contests in the Rocky Mountains to governor’s races in the Deep South, are disparaging the National Rifle Association, a group with deep pockets, a loyal membership and a record of Election Day score-settling, the New York Times reports. Those Democrats, and a few Republicans, believe that after Parkland, many voters have been turned off by the NRA’s hard line, its belligerence and its demands for lock-step loyalty from elected officials. John Heenan, a Democrat running for Montana’s sole seat in the House of Representatives, said that, “all Montanans, especially gun owners, just want people who are going to be responsive to them and bring common sense to the table.”
Attacking the NRA, which claims a membership of nearly 5 million, is a political gamble. Democrats say they feel emboldened by the groundswell of outrage over gun violence after the Feb. 14 attack in Florida, which left 17 people dead. They are encouraged by polls showing that measures like universal background checks and age restrictions for gun buyers are widely popular. Many Democrats airing misgivings about the NRA views are competing in primaries where they are playing to an audience of fellow Democrats and not yet the entire electorate. Their hostility to the NRA in the spring could certainly fade by the fall. Still, many Democrats have grown wary of an organization that they believe has effectively evolved into an extension of the Republican Party, and they have begun to wonder whether they would be better off putting some distance between themselves and the NRA.